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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Easter Week: Monday; The Temple and the Fig Tree

At first glance, it may seem that this may not have been an incredibly busy day for the Savior, especially compared to yesterday. However, looking at the events of today, it was actually quite significant.
First, as the Savior and His group of followers returned to Jerusalem from Bethany, Jesus found Himself hungry. He approached a fig tree hoping to find fruit despite the fact that it was not the season for figs. He issued a curse upon the fig tree that it would never again yield fruit for man. The tree than withered and died. This curse upon the fig tree has always struck me as interesting, because it seems so out of Jesus' healing and loving nature.
However, as I read the few verses that followed Matthew's account of the fig tree and than considered other writings, two interesting lessons came out. In Matthew 21:21-22, after being questioned about the fig tree, the Lord responded by giving short lesson on faith and prayer. Is it possible that Jesus was taking an opportunity to show his disciples, and us, how with faith we could do anything?
Also, many sources teach that this fig tree was an example of what would happen to Israel. Just as the fig tree was unprepared for its Master and faced destruction, his people also faced destruction as they were not prepared to accept Him.
Jesus also spent much of this day in the teaching. Unlike His previous visits to the temple, where He taught in the courtyards, during this week He teaches in the temple. The chief priests, scribes and elders were present for His teachings and confronted Him demanding to know what gave Him authority to be there. He also gives the parable of the wicked husbandmen, which is a parable about them. Knowing that he people were very devoted to him, they priests and scribes left defeated. Many parables were issued on this day, of which some prophesy of the rejection of Israel's leadership.
I found the final event of this day to be highly emotional. For a brief moment, Jesus shares His burden with those closest to Him. In John 12:27, Jesus shares His trepidation for the coming events and makes a plea to be spared of what He knows is coming. Unlike the similar plea that He will make in just a few short days, Heavenly Father speaks in a voice that is heard by those nearby. Jesus is reassured by the voice of His Father that He will be glorified.
I know how my actions and my mood often are a direct reflection of what is in my heart. When I have a task that I am hesitant to complete, I know it shows in everything I do. My emotions were sparked as I realized that our Savior knew the coming events and was concerned about them, yet He went about the Father's work each and every day. I hope that as you study this week, you will find yourself dedicating your full efforts to aligning your will with that of the Father's, that you will gain a deep appreciation for the events of this week so that your testimony will be firm and fast in the atonement and resurrection of our Savior.

I have included another Hymn, #59 "Come, Thou King of Kings". Though there may not be a hymn for every day, this one struck me as good for today for many reasons. First, you can use it for family home evening if you would like. Second, as I have been studying this, the last week of Christ's life, I am struck more than usual at how His role as King became more apparent to His followers and His enemies.  Again, select words and music to hear the full version of the hymn.
To Listen

Scripture Experience:
     * The cursing of the fig tree (Mark 11:12-14; Matthew 21:18-22)
     * Mark's account of the cleansing of the Temple (Mark 11:15-19)
     * Jesus' pattern of teaching in the temple (Luke 19:47-48)
     * Teachings in the Temple (Mark 11:27-12:12; Matthew 21:23-22:15; Luke 20:1-19)
     * Jesus and the coming hour (John 12:20-36)

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